Pizza Emoji
by Brandon Butler
Mark's Mess 8/28/2020

Last week Facebook made the decision not to take action against the Kenosha Guard Facebook page, an illegal terrorist group in Wisconsin, which was issuing a “call to arms” against protestors upset over the shooting of Jacob Blake. But then two people were murdered by some dumb kid with an assault rifle who’s not old enough to vote, drive, gamble, enter a strip club, watch porn, rent a hotel room, rent a car, or enter a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant without an adult present, but can own and carry an assault rifle in the United States of America. But I digress.

After the shooting, Facebook eventually took the page and the accounts of these so-called militants (slash-terrorists) down, but the damage to the community and to Facebook was already done. According to a statement provided to The Verge, Facebook said they “have not found evidence on Facebook that suggests the shooter followed the Kenosha Guard Page or that he was invited on the Event Page they organized.”

But apparently some Facebook employees were less than happy with this explanation from Facebook, and called out CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a company wide meeting on Thursday. According to Ryan Mac at Buzzfeed:

Frustrated Facebook employees slammed CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday during a companywide meeting, questioning his leadership and decision-making, following a week in which the platform promoted violent conspiracy theories and gave safe harbor to militia groups. The billionaire chief executive was speaking via webcast at the company’s weekly all-hands meeting, attempting to address questions about violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the QAnon conspiracy that has proliferated across Facebook. [...]

Zuckerberg said not taking down the page earlier was “An operational mistake”:

The company did not catch the page despite user reports, Zuckerberg said, because the complaints had been sent to content moderation contractors who were not versed in “how certain militias” operate. “On second review, doing it more sensitively, the team that was responsible for dangerous organizations recognized that this violated the policies and we took it down.”

Some employees didn’t find Zuckerberg’s answer very satisfying:

“We need to get better at avoiding mistakes and being more proactive,” one [Facebook employee] wrote. ”Feels like we’re caught in a cycle of responding to damage after it’s already been done rather than constructing mechanisms to nip these issues before they result in real harm.”

In a separate article on Buzzfeed, Mac and Pranav Dixit report on comments Zuckerberg made regarding Apple’s App Store:

“[Apple has] this unique stranglehold as a gatekeeper on what gets on phones,” Zuckerberg said to more than 50,000 employees via webcast. He added that the Cupertino, California–based company’s app store “blocks innovation, blocks competition” and “allows Apple to charge monopoly rents.”

I would honestly argue that Facebook has done more harm to technology and to the world at large more so than Apple’s gatekeeping of the App Store. Zuckerberg can call Apple out for being a bad gatekeeper all he wants; I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. But until Facebook can clean up their social network, remove the conspiracy theories and the misinformation and the calls for violence, I don’t think Zuckerberg has much of a leg to stand on.